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A College President Speaks in Vermont

By Peter A. Eden, Ph.D.

Landmark College was built on the belief that neurodiversity is a strength. The kind of neurodiversity commonly seen in our students (whether on our Vermont campus or elsewhere in the U.S. through our summer short-term programs or growing online programs) include LDs such as dyslexia, ADHD, executive function challenges, and ASD.  No longer seen as a deficit, neurodiversity is justifiably gaining long-overdue recognition across industries. Corporations are actively recruiting neurodiverse individuals, recognizing that they often have an approach to learning and problem-solving that can lead to innovation.

Landmark College has, therefore, always functioned as a "center for neurodiversity" - and today we have established a Center for Neurodiversity (CND). The CND allows us to better promulgate the research- and evidence-based practices in teaching and learning for those with an LD, and facilitates efforts to develop and apply new methodologies, technologies, and modalities for success in learning, living, and career readiness.

Among the CND's primary goals:

Thought Leadership and Social Justice: The CND will operate as a think tank, and will generate white papers and opinion pieces that shape the global conversation about neurodiversity, with input from neurodiverse individuals. To that end, author and advocate John Elder Robison - who refers to himself as "a proud Aspergian" - serves as visiting lecturer and advisor to the CND.

Innovative Programming: The CND will support research, development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of models that support neurodiverse learners in living, learning, and workplace environments.

Resource Development: The CND will build online resources to support neurodiverse individuals, parents, educators, and employers related to neurodiversity issues.

Partnership Building: The CND will facilitate dialogue and partnerships, both internally and outside campus, to create synergistic opportunities. One example is our work to soon establish Landmark College as the first Neurodiversity Hub in the United States, through partnership with DXC Technology and the Dandelion Program.

Community-Building: The CND is creating activities and events, including guest speakers on campus, to allow opportunities for neurodiverse individuals (and anyone with an interest in neurodiversity) to share perspectives and participate in action plans.

Closely related to the establishment of the CND are Landmark College's growing relationships with forward-thinking corporations such as SAP, Hasbro, and JP Morgan Chase, to name just a few, which have created new opportunities for neurodiverse individuals to bring their unique talents to the workplace. Also in line with these efforts is the College's establishment of the Landmark Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (LEAP), which, through the support of the Morgan Le Fay Dreams Foundation, awards up to $10,000 per year to Landmark College student entrepreneurs who create and then pitch business plans for novel ventures including a social justice-inspired clothing line and virtual reality software.

As neurodiversity is increasingly recognized as a strength by business leaders, Landmark College, the preeminent college for neurodiverse individuals, aims to help large companies understand the minds of people with LD, and change the way the public thinks about truly innovative educational models. In years to come, when people think of neurodiversity, they will no longer think of stigma or a deficit, but instead simply a different way of thinking and operating. Landmark College is proud to lead the way.#

Peter A. Eden, Ph.D., is president of Landmark College in Putney, Vermont.

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